Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Samuel, Hon. Sir Saul

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Samuel, Hon. Sir Saul, K.C.M.G., C.B., Agent-General for New South Wales, is the son of the late Sampson Samuel of London, and was born on Nov. 2nd, 1820. When twelve years old he was taken to Sydney, N.S.W., and educated at Sydney College under Mr. Cape. On leaving school he entered the office of his uncles, who were merchants in England and Sydney. In 1841 Sir Saul Samuel embarked in squatting, and he and his brother became joint owners of large stations in the western districts of New South Wales. In 1851, shortly after the gold discovery, Sir Saul Samuel relinquished pastoral pursuits and embarked extensively in the mining and manufacturing interests of the country. He may be said to have been the pioneer of several important industries which have since been largely developed in the colony. In 1854 Sir Saul was elected a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, which consisted of members partly nominated by the Crown and partly elected, for the constituency of Roxburgh and Wellington. In 1856 responsible government was inaugurated, and Sir Saul was returned to the Assembly soon after the new Constitution came into existence for the Orange district. From Oct. 1859 to March 1860 he was Colonial Treasurer in the administration of the late Mr. William Forster. It was during his period of office that Queensland was separated from New South Wales, and it was Sir Saul's duty to effect the financial separation of the two colonies. Sir Saul was also Treasurer in the late Sir Charles Cowper's Government from Oct. 1865 to Jan. 1866; when he resigned, owing to the rejection of a portion of his financial proposals. He was again Treasurer from Oct. 1868 to Dec. 1870 in the Robertson and Cowper Administrations. In 1868 Sir Saul Samuel was present at Clontarf, when the Duke of Edinburgh was shot at and seriously wounded by O'Farrell, and was the first to announce the occurrence of the outrage to the Legislative Assembly, amidst a scene of much excitement. On the following day, as a leading member of the Opposition, he seconded the address which was proposed by the Premier, Sir Jas. Martin, expressive of horror of the crime and sympathy with its intended victim. In 1870, whilst in office under Sir Chas. Cowper, Sir Saul was one of the delegates of New South Wales to the Intercolonial Conference held in Melbourne, on which occasion he moved a resolution in favour of Intercolonial Free Trade, and of a uniform Australian tariff, based upon the principles of free trade so far as fiscal requirements would permit. In 1872 Sir Saul was elected to the Assembly for East Sydney; but in the same year was nominated to the Upper House in order to represent the Parkes Government in that Chamber, with the office of Vice-President of the Executive Council. This position he held from May to Dec., when he took the additional office of Postmaster-General, the new Sydney post office being opened during the time he held office, which lasted till Feb. 1875, when the Government resigned. In 1873, when Postmaster-General, he was a member of another Conference of Representatives of all the Colonies, which was held in Sydney, to endeavour to come to some agreement with reference to several important questions of common interest to the Australian colonies, among them the mail service between the mother country and the colonies. In consequence of the action of Victoria in entering into a contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Company, which made Melbourne the terminus for that mail service instead of Sydney, as had previously been the case, Sir Saul Samuel was delegated to proceed to New Zealand, England and the United States to establish a postal service between England, New South Wales and New Zealand, viâ San Francisco, which he succeeded in doing in conjunction with Mr. Thomas Russell, C.M.G., who was appointed to act for the New Zealand Government. Having contracted in England for the performance of this service, Sir Saul Samuel returned to Sydney by way of the United States, and at New York was entertained at a public dinner, at which Mr. Arthur, then Collector of Customs and afterwards President of the United States, was one of the guests. At Washington Sir Saul succeeded in making a Postal Convention with the United States Government, which was personally ratified by President Grant, and afterwards by Her Majesty's Government. On Sir Saul Samuel's arrival in Sydney, in Feb. 1874, he was entertained at a public banquet in recognition of the successful manner in which he had carried out the establishment of what is known as the "San Francisco Mail Service." In the same year Sir Saul was created C.M.G. He twice subsequently acted as Postmaster-General under Sir Henry Parkes—viz., from March to August 1877, and from Dec. 1878 to August 1880—when he accepted the appointment of Agent-General for New South Wales in the United Kingdom. In addition to the heavy financial operations which Sir Saul, who was created K.C.M.G. in 1882, has carried through on behalf of his Government, he has had to deal with Imperial questions of considerable importance. In 1885 he was the medium of intercommunication through which Mr. Dalley offered to place what is known as the "Soudan Contingent" at the disposal of the British Government, and through him its acceptance, due in great measure to his energy and promptitude, was subsequently secured. In 1883 Sir Saul acted as Executive Commissioner for New South Wales to the Amsterdam Exhibition. In 1886 he was appointed one of the Royal Commissioners for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, and on the death of Sir Alexander Stuart, who acted for a short time as Executive Commissioner for New South Wales, he performed the duties of that post till the close of the Exhibition, when, for his services in connection therewith, he received the Civil Companionship of the Bath. In the next year Sir Saul was one of the delegates of New South Wales to the Colonial Conference held in London under the auspices of Lord Salisbury's Government. He was also appointed a member of the Organising Committee of the Imperial Institute, Sir Saul, who about this time was presented with the freedom of the Skinners' Company, is a member of the Council of the Royal Colonial Institute. In 1888 Sir Saul paid a short visit to Sydney, where he received a very cordial reception from all sections of the community. The next year he was entertained at a public dinner in London on the occasion of his entering his seventieth year. In 1891 Sir Saul represented the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland at the Vienna Postal Convention. Sir Saul married, first, in 1859, Henrietta Matilda, daughter of Benjamin Goldsmid Levien, of Geelong, Vict.; and, secondly, in 1877, Sara Louise, daughter of B. Isaacs, J. P., of Auckland, N.Z.